When I originally decided it was time to make this trip, my goal was to make it to the Arctic Circle sign, relish the moment, camp for the night on top of the world and then head home. Since then, as I determined the amount of time I could take and worked out a schedule, I added a trek up the remainder of the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay to the agenda. It's only 300 more miles each way, but those miles are on some awful and often treacherous terrain. Add to that the fact that the weather becomes less predictable the further north one travels and the possibility of making it riding Hester is pretty slim. I still have 4,000+ miles to ride to get home and I can't risk unrepairable bike damage.
I started looking at alternatives like renting a motorcycle suitable for that terrain in Fairbanks and riding it up to and back from Prudhoe. There are numerous operations that rent the right kind of bikes, but with the cost and restrictions, those options are slipping away also. They all rent bikes for about $150 per day, but they demand a four to six day minimum and an additional $300 to $500 fee for riders heading north of the Arctic Circle. The more I look at the numbers and examine the bottom line, the less feasible it seems that I'll go north of the Circle sign. Honestly, there's nothing up there to see, but it's as far as anyone can go and I wanted to see it.
I'm a bit bummed, but I know the cash and days saved will allow me to alter my return route to include Deadwood, Devil's Tower, Sturgis, and the Black Hills. I will still meet my initial objective and that is the most important bottom line.